Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Impersonator by Mary Miley

In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family’s vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he’s found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece. But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he’s wrong. Orphaned young, Leah’s been acting since she was a toddler.

Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition—with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she’s let go from her job, Oliver’s offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There’s only one problem: Leah’s act won’t fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie’s disappearance.

Set against a Prohibition-era backdrop of speakeasies and vaudeville houses, Mary Miley’s Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition winner The Impersonator will delight readers with its elaborate mystery and lively prose.

Hardcover, 358 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Minotaur Books
(ebook provided by publisher via netgalley, 
audio book from my personal library)

Ih has only been recently that my interest in the early 1900's has been piqued.  I wasn't sure what to expect with this book.  If you read the synopsis like I did, you might think it sounds a little far fetched and that this book lacks depth and substance.  So to be perfectly honest, this book blew me away.  Told from the POV of Leah/Jessie, a Vaudeville actress, she had a voice that just sucked me right in.  Not only did I get to know her but each of the other players in this book as well.  There was enough information that had me guessing at the 'this, that and the other scenios'.  The ending was perfect and one I didn't totally expect (I love it when that happens).

Leah/Jessie is a really likable character, she has spunk, knows when to keep quiet and when to ask the right questions.  There is a lot going on in this book aside from Leah playing Jessie, there is mystery (what really happened to Jessie), suspence (the build up to the conclusion), some unsavory activity (sorry can't be too specific here) and I think I'd better stop before I reveal too much.

If you like HF from the 1920's, a good mystery and a glimpse into the lifestyles of that era, then give this book a try.

This is Mary Miley's debut (remember I love debuts), The Impersonator is the beginning of The Roaring Twenties Mystery Series.  Book 2 is Silent Murders scheduled to be released Sept 23, 2014, sorry not posting synopsis as that would be a major spoiler.

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